I bent, and I bent, and I bent… and finally, I broke.

I’ve tried hard to stay optimistic throughout this pandemic and not allow the virus to steal my joy. I’m a positive, glass-half-full, life-is-good kind of guy. Every challenge represents an opportunity. There’s a silver lining to every cloud. God’s got this under control.

If you’ve read my writing, you know that’s who I am at my core. Optimism is in my DNA.

This week, though, that got hijacked. Living in Minnesota, we’re facing another round of shutdowns. The closures began slowly last week, and the cuts got deeper this past Wednesday. School has now closed for my kids, and we’re back to a full virtual learning model. There’s a growing number of people that I know who have the virus. The days are getting shorter, and the news continues getting darker as well.

Everything felt like it was closing in. I could feel myself sliding into a funk. My writing was no longer enjoyable, and my energy level for work took a hit. I was more irritable (just ask Cristina about that), and my patience was shorter. The days left me with nothing left in my tank to give.

The greatest challenge in the middle of this all was that I couldn’t let anyone know I was struggling. I had to keep showing up, had to keep driving forward, had to keep leading with positivity. I’m very open and transparent with most everything in my life, but I felt like talking about this wasn’t an option. I just needed to suck it up and move on.

Please tell me you’re nodding as you read this…

I know some of you are because I’ve shared great conversations with many of you this week where you expressed the same feelings. “Me too.” Those were the words many of you shared. And so, with that in mind, we’re in this together. 

Here are a few things I learned in my funk, and on my way out. (Yes, I made it out! I’ll share how I got out in a second…)

First, Take Some Time to Reset – Bottling up those feelings is no way to get loose from them. Give yourself some time and permission to feel the frustration, the anger, the sadness, the uncertainty. Name it, call it what it is, and get clear on where those feelings and emotions will take you. Let yourself be in that moment for a bit, and then make some moves to shift your mind. Wade through the muck, but don’t stop walking to wallow in it. I took some time away from writing and gave myself a break from my regular routine, but I didn’t step away for too long.

Disengage the Noise – The current news cycle has done nothing to help lift my spirits or my mental health. Instead, it brought me more muck, and I caught myself getting pulled in deeper. The media thrives on fear and negativity – those are great magnets for our attention. Turning off the news, listening to some music, and reading some great books helped shift my perspective toward thinking optimistically. Remember this – what you feed grows. 

Get Back to Gratitude – I’ve been talking about gratitude a lot lately, and this week I really had to lean into that. I went back to that gratitude exercise I shared last week and made my list of 100 things I am grateful for right now. Comparing it to the list I made last year at this time, 2020’s list is similar but different. Even amid this pandemic and the roller coaster it’s been, there’s still a great list of things I am thankful for – enough to fill that exercise and more!

Refresh Your Spirit – One of the reasons for my funk is that I stepped away from my morning quiet time. I got busy, I got distracted, and I got off course. No more reflection, no more mediation and prayer, and no more time digging into my Bible. Your version of “quiet time” might be different than mine. Regardless, making sure to make time for quiet and reflection is essential… especially in the midst of a funk.

Talk About It – So what got me out of my funk? The catalyst for getting loose was a series of perfectly timed back-to-back-to-back conversations I had on Thursday. They were authentic, real, and transparent – and the more transparent they got, the better I felt. I realized that I am not alone in walking through this fire or feeling these feelings. I was reminded that I have a fantastic circle of people around me who have my back and are walking with me. We’re in this together, and that feeling of not being alone right now changed everything.

The Takeaway

If you’ve found yourself in a funk the last few weeks, remember this… you are not alone. You and I, and so many others, are all in this together and there have been some dips and valleys along the way. Knowing that, keep doing or start doing some of the things above that will help you keep from getting stuck where you’re at. 

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Take care! – John